Fuel Soccer Talk: U.S. men top Panama in Gold Cup; Canada, Sinclair fall short again; Sweden emerges as a dark horse

U.S. knocks off Panama to complete perfect group stage run

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Before 17,037 boisterous fans at Children’s Mercy Park, the U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Panama 1-0 to win Group D of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup thanks to Jozy Altidore’s 66th-minute strike. The victory completes a perfect group stage run for the USA, which kept clean sheets in all three matches for just the second time in its history while also finishing with a +11 goal differential, the team’s best ever mark in a Gold Cup group stage.

The USA (3-0-0; 9pts) and Panama (2-1-0; 6pts) advance from Group D to take on the second and first place teams from Group C, respectively. In Group C, Curacao (1-1-1; 4pts) grabbed a second place finish thanks to a last-second goal from Jurien Gaari that earned the island nation a 1-1 tie with group winners Jamaica (1-0-2; 5pts) on the final match day and a date with the USA in the tournament quarterfinals. Kickoff for USA-Curacao is set for 8 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on FS1, Univision and UDN.

The USA amassed two-thirds of the possession and played a majority of the game in midfield and their offensive third, while limiting Panama to the odd counter attack and a solitary shot on target. With more than 20 touches in the Panama penalty area, the U.S. attack needed the first half to find its cutting edge as Altidore sent the Americans’ two best chances of the opening 45 minutes wide of the left post and directly at José Calderón in the Panama goal.

Complete game coverage

MLS writer Greg Seltzer breaks down each player’s performance

Who stood out for the Americans in the match with Panama? 

World Cup 2019: Canada’s loss could be end of the road of Christine Sinclair

AP photo

Back in April, Canada played England in a friendly as both teams prepared for the World Cup in France. Canada’s Christine Sinclair scored the game’s only goal to lead Canada to a 1-0 win that not only moved Sinclair that much closer to history but also gave Canada a huge boost of confidence heading to France. The goal was the 35-year-old’s 180th of her career moving her just four goals back of retired American Abby Wambach’s world record of 184. “It’s just an honor to be chasing Abby down,” Sinclair said at the time. Sinclair, the gifted Canadian captain, scored her first goal for Canada on March 14, 2000, in her second senior appearance.

In the 2015 World Cup, England knocked out Canada 2-1 in a quarterfinal match in Vancouver. Canada failed to reach the quarterfinals in France falling to Sweden 1-0 on Monday.

Sinclair was in tears following the match on Monday at the Parc des Princes as it was more than likely her final time at a World Cup. She scored only one goal in the tournament and trails Wambach by two goals as her team once again fell short of their goals and expectations on the biggest stage.

Should Sinclair have taken the penalty kick against Sweden?

World Cup 2019: “Efficient” Sweden faces Germany on Saturday

AP photo

Sweden booked their place in the World Cup quarterfinals on Monday following a 1-0 win against Canada. The Olympic runners-up, Sweden has the talent and drive to win it all in France and they are playing like champions so far but bigger challenges are soon to come for Sweden – starting with Germany on Saturday.

The big play in the game against Canada was Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl saving Janine Beckie’s penalty with 20 minutes to play in the game.

ESPN’s Julien Laurens called Sweden “efficient.”

“Such as on Monday when Stina Blackstenius scored on her team’s first shot on target,” Laurens wrote. “Sweden’s goal came off a wonderful assist – perhaps the best of the tournament so far? – to Blackstenius from Kosovare Asllani just after the break. The playmaker is the one bringing a bit of magic to this team. She also had a volley saved on the line in the second half. The former Paris Saint-Germain star caused a lot of trouble to the Canadians, who could not handle her, especially in the second half.”

How far will Sweden go?

LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?

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